Put frankly, this is the sort of table you don’t want to be top of. New Zealand now tops the world table for the highest rate of melanoma. Australian research, published in the Journal of Investigative Dermatology in 2016, has found New Zealand rates are high and climbing.
The QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute study found that New Zealand’s invasive melanoma rates have nearly doubled in the last 30 years. Invasive melanoma is referred to as the “deadliest form of skin cancer”, capable of invading the body and spreading. And our medical treatment options remain few.
New Zealand’s overall number of invasive melanomas diagnosed in New Zealand each year would keep increasing. Professor David Whiteman, who led the study, said this was down to population growth and an aging population.
“Unfortunately for older New Zealanders alive today, most will have already sustained significant amounts of sun damage before the prevention campaigns were introduced. Those people are developing melanomas now, many decades after the cancer-causing exposure to sunlight occurred,” he said.
“As New Zealand’s population ages, the number of melanomas diagnosed will continue to increase.”
Professor Whiteman said it was crucial that people of all ages did their best to avoid the sun during the hottest part of the day and otherwise protected themselves from the sun by wearing a hat, protective clothing and sunscreen.
In short, prevention and early detection remain our best tools in combatting melanoma.
You might also like to watch John Campbell’s recent CheckPoint coverage on the topic: